IMDb > The Maltese Falcon (1931)
The Maltese Falcon
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The Maltese Falcon (1931) More at IMDbPro »


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7.5/10   1,945 votes »
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Down 11% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Dashiell Hammett (based on the novel by)
Maude Fulton (screen play & dialogue) ...
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Release Date:
13 June 1931 (USA) See more »
A lovely dame with dangerous lies employs the services of a private detective, who is quickly caught up in the mystery and intrigue of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Interesting version of a classic See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Bebe Daniels ... Ruth Wonderly

Ricardo Cortez ... Sam Spade
Dudley Digges ... Casper Gutman
Una Merkel ... Effie Perine
Robert Elliott ... Detective Lt. Dundy

Thelma Todd ... Iva Archer
Otto Matieson ... Dr. Joel Cairo
Walter Long ... Miles Archer

Dwight Frye ... Wilmer Cook
J. Farrell MacDonald ... Det. Sgt. Tom Polhouse
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Agostino Borgato ... Capt. John Jacobi (uncredited)
Tiny Jones ... Jailbird Seeking Cigarette (uncredited)
Cliff Saum ... Baggage Clerk (uncredited)
Morgan Wallace ... District Attorney (uncredited)
Lucille Ward ... Sarah - Prison Matron (uncredited)

Directed by
Roy Del Ruth 
Writing credits
Dashiell Hammett (based on the novel by)

Maude Fulton (screen play & dialogue) &
Brown Holmes (screen play & dialogue)

Lucien Hubbard  uncredited

Cinematography by
William Rees (photography)
Film Editing by
George Marks (edited by)
Art Direction by
Robert M. Haas  (as Robert Haas)
Camera and Electrical Department
Palmer Belmont .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Harry Davis .... second camera (uncredited)
Mac Julian .... still photographer (uncredited)
Frederick E. West .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Earl Luick .... wardrobe
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Music Department
Leo F. Forbstein .... conductor: Vitaphone Orchestra
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Dangerous Female" - USA (TV title)
See more »
80 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Did You Know?

Although not visible until the final reel, a portrait of Louise Brooks hangs in Spade's apartment, above his telephone.See more »
Continuity: In the second-to-last scene, as Spade identifies killers to the police, his robe goes from being relatively neat to sloppy.See more »
[first lines]
Sam Spade:Bye-bye, honey. I'll see you later... Effie!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Footsteps in the Dark (1941)See more »


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28 out of 34 people found the following review useful.
Interesting version of a classic, 20 November 2004
Author: McGonigle from bean world, massachusetts

As everyone knows by now (at least if they're on this IMDb page!), this was the original film version of "The Maltese Falcon". And, of course, it (being pre-code) is a lot sexier than the Bogart version, which is to say, comparable to a racy 1970s TV movie. We see Miss Wonderley sleeping in Spade's bed, and actually see her naked in the bathtub (from the shoulders up) at one point.

As in "Satan Met a Lady", the detective is made out to be a sleazy ladies' man in this movie. When we first see him, he's kissing a woman goodbye; we never actually see her face, but we see her adjusting her stocking, and when Sam returns to his office, the pillows from his couch are in disarray. He seems to be getting some from Effie as well (and I must point out that Una Merkel, as Effie, is hot, hot, hot in this movie; quite a contrast to the matronly Lee Patrick in the 1941 version).

Overall, though, this movie is still somewhat unsatisfying. I suppose if we had never seen the Bogart/Huston version, this would stand as an acceptable adaptation of Hammett's novel (by the standards of the time). It follows the novel fairly closely, but skimps on the plot somewhat. The subplot where Wonderley disappears, and then reappears (as O'Shaughnessy) because she realizes Gutman is in town is missing, as is all the great interplay between Spade and Wilmer ("Just keep riding me, buster", "This'll put you in solid with your boss", etc.) that was such a treat in the later version. True, this movie is a little more explicit about the relationship between Gutman and Wilmer, but Wilmer is such a minor character (with literally only a few minutes of screen time) that their relationship still seems more fully-developed in the 1941 movie. There's also a very odd change at the end (just before the prison scene) that seems like something of a cop-out.

And, finally, it must be pointed out that Ricardo Cortez really stinks in this movie. He spends most of the movie with a smirk plastered on his face, and his performance in general is extremely stiff. I suppose that's to be expected in such an early talkie, but, combined with the general aura of sleaziness that his character exudes, it makes it impossible to really care what happens to him. In the end, this is an enjoyable movie, but mainly for reasons of historical curiosity, and it never comes anywhere near the "classic" status that the later remake has achieved.

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